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flight charges: Hiking flyer compensation will lead to increased airfares, airlines warn govt

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NEW DELHI: Indian carriers are up in arms against the aviation ministry’s proposal to hike compensation for flyers for deficiency in services as well as cap the exorbitant cancellation charges levied by airlines. In fact, the airlines have warned that if the government goes ahead with its passenger-friendly move, it will lead to “fare hikes” as airlines will be forced to “pass on the cost” to flyers.

The Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA), an umbrella body of Jet Airways, IndiGo, SpiceJet and GoAir, recently wrote to the ministry saying: “…in our opinion the existing rules and compensation levels already safeguard passenger interests in a fair and adequate manner. Making these more stringent and/or increasing the compensation levels will only result in an increase in costs for airlines which will impact their viability and in turn only result in an increase in airfares for the traveling public as airlines will have no option but to pass on such costs to their passengers.”

“…delays, cancellations are many a times a function/consequence of infrastructure constraints — in terminals, at airside and also due to air navigation constraints and weather, all of which are not in the control of the airlines… impact of more stringent rules and increased compensation will be greatly multiplied. We therefore suggest that the proposed changes be dropped and are of the opinion that the existing rules which are more than adequate to safeguard passenger interests be continued without any changes,” it adds.

While asking the government to drop its proposal, FIA says, “In the highly competitive environment, all airlines are keen to retain the goodwill of their passengers, which also acts as a self-deterrent and typically ensures that airlines provide high quality operations and passenger handling services.”

The government proposes to hike compensation for deficiency in airline services leading to lost baggage or delayed and delayed flights in a passenger charter that it is preparing and will soon release for public comments. It is proposing to hike the compensation for lost, delayed and damaged baggage in international and domestic flights up to Rs 3,000 a kg.

Currently, airlines are supposed to pay upto Rs 20,000 and Rs 100,000 on this count on domestic and international flights, respectively. The existing norms are likely to be changed with the ministry proposing compensation of Rs 3,000 to 20,000 for missed flight connections. Wrongfully denying boarding may lead to airlines paying at least Rs 5,000 to passengers. Similarly, compensations for delays beyond two hours due to reasons attributable to airlines, denied boarding, and flight cancellations are also proposed to be hiked.

Updated: April 10, 2018 — 3:20 pm

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